I have always been a bit of a magpie. Collecting throw away everyday objects or beach combing for little gems left by the sea.
There’s something very powerful about the nostalgia small seemingly trivial objects that, when treasured, can change from a ‘nothing’ into a ‘something’ that can transport you to a place and time.
It’s something I guess I inherited from my Dad. Although my Mum would tell you he wasn’t a magpie he was more of a full on hoarder. He was a mechanic by trade and collected all sorts of tools from all kinds of industry. His collection lived, stacked high, in his ‘workshop’ AKA the back of our house, alongside mechanic manuals, vintage hand tools, boat parts, and a number of old fridges, yes old fridges, filled with all manner of nuts and bolts and machine parts. Growing up I spent hours playing amongst this maze of odds and ends and it’s where my love of collecting and magpie tendencies started. One man’s junk is truly another man’s treasure.
Unlike my Dad though, I know that it’s not enough just too randomly collect objects. Life is too short to hoard things that don’t add value to your well-been. Clutter can take over your life and drag you down (plus you have to be considerate and respectful of the people you live with) . So over the years I have learned to edit my collections and be selective on what I held on to and what I happily parted with.
In 2009, Robin and I collected and saved every map, brochure, ticket stub, metro pass and museum guide during a 3 month backpacker’s tour of Europe using Interrail. It seemed ludicrous at the time to hold on to these trivial things as memento’s but we quickly realised that these everyday throw away objects represented more than just a pass to great art or a beautiful city but recorded a great adventure, and a time we never wanted to forget.
The normal mass produced tourism paraphernalia doesn’t really appeal to us but we still wanted something to remember places by. So we collected every scrap of paper we could and when our backpacks got two heavy between city stops, we found a post office and mailed an envelope of memorabilia back to the UK to family.
Not wanting the collection to stay boxed away, littering our home, out of context and unappreciated we decided to display as much of it as we could. So with an inexpensive letter press draw from EBay, those ‘throw away’ memories of that trip now take pride of place in our home.
Collections take many forms in our home; from scrapbooks, art displays and bottled collections. But no matter what form those memories take there’s always a place for them. So we keep on: Collect, edit, collect, edit, love, display.
The possibilities are endless when you’re a magpie.